The Future is 5G – Here’s What You Need to Know

If you were at this year’s Unbound, London’s annual Innovation festival, you would have heard the word 5G mentioned. A lot.

5G is rolling out across the world and has already gone live in the UK. EE was the first UK carrier to launch its 5G network back in May. Vodafone followed with its rollout in July. O2 and Three have also expressed plans to launch in 2019.

BUT what EXACTLY is 5G?

5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity – a faster, more reliable step up from 4G .

For the majority of us on 4G, we know that it’s a fairly quick way of accessing the internet, especially when compared to the days of 3G. But there are times, typically in densely populated areas where lots of devices are trying to connect, when accessing the internet can be painfully slow. This however, won’t be an issue with 5G.

The ultra-fast mobile network technology will better manage congestion. 5G promises vastly higher data speeds, meaning you could eventually download videos up to 100 times faster than 4G. But perhaps even more importantly, it means low latency connections. Latency refers to the response time between clicking on a link, which sends a request up to the network and the network then responding and delivering you the website. The lag time on current networks is roughly 20 milliseconds. With 5G, it could be as little as 1 millisecond.  

So, what does all this mean? And what impact will IT have?

Each new generation of mobile networking has come with its own set of opportunities and usages. And 5G is no exception. The next-gen mobile network is designed to accommodate a wide range of connected devices fuelling new IoT usages, such as self-driving cars. But there are endless applications including gaming, video streaming, immersive technology and manufacturing – according to Eman Martin-Vignerte, Director at Bosch.

Due to lower latency (aka. faster response times), 5G will open up seamless possibilities for tasks that demand quick responses – tasks that today’s 4G networks either struggle to do or just can’t power. The manufacturing industry, for example, will greatly benefit from low-latency connectivity. 5G will enable robots to communicate wirelessly instead of with network cables, untethering them so a factory can rapidly switch manufacturing jobs. Gamers could also benefit. Action multi-player games such as Fortnite require low latency to deliver a good multiplayer experience, and therefore up until now have mostly been played in home using home broadband connectivity. But with 5G, this could all change.

Immersing 5G into reality  

Speaking at Unbound, Immersive & Creative Lead at Digital Catapult, Emily Savage thinks “5G will unleash the true power of immersive tech”. She predicts high quality rendering and high resolution VR and AR on the move will become a reality. The success of Pokémon GO demonstrated a demand for real-time AR Experiences. And these types experiences will only improve and increase as 5G reaches it’s true potential.

Broadband killer

5G isn’t just going to make your phone faster, it could also make your home broadband connection much faster. With lighting-fast speeds and low-latency connections, 5G fixed wireless could replace fixed broadband services. This would have a profound impact on telecommunications industry.

What’s going to happen next?

5G is going to be a game changer. It will open up a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities – that stretch far beyond your phone and faster mobile internet. But it’s still in its infancy. There’s still a long way to go until we’re able to experience the transformative capabilities of this technology. According to Mansoor Hanif, CTO of Ofcom, national coverage may take up to 6 years in the UK. But we’re excited to track 5G as it expands and matures.

If you’d like to learn more and discover how we’ve been helping our clients get to grips with 5G, contact us here.